Gale Photography bio picture
  • Welcome to Gale Photography

    Hello, and welcome to my website! I'm Derek Gale, photography trainer and Fine Art photographer.

    If you are looking to improve your photographic creativity, skills or knowledge, check out the Photography Training pages.

    For beautiful Fine Art images that showcase my personal vision take a look at the Fine Art Photography pages.

    You can keep up to date with me by subscribing to "Writing with Light", my e-mail newsletter, which has special offers, photography tips, and news. Just go to "Contact Me" above and click the “Please subscribe me!” link. I won't pass on your details to anyone else, and it's easy to unsubscribe.

    You can also automatically receive updates when I write new blog posts. Just press the "RSS Feed" button above.

    Looking forward to hearing from you! In the meantime read my blog posts below. They're full of useful info...

    For Gale Photography's cookies policy please click here.

  • Follow @galephoto on Twitter

It’s the start of the end of the pier show!

I recently went to Norfolk for a short break.  It was the week before Easter, and everywhere had the feel of being slightly out of season.  I stayed in the town of Cromer, which has a traditional pier which was undergoing the last part of a restoration after being damaged in a winter storm surge a couple of years before.

Creative photography training with Derek Gale

“The pier by night”

The pier looked very attractive in the evening with its floodlights.  I photographed it about half an hour after sunset, so there was still some light in the sky and some detail in the sea.  I had to crop off a builders’ skip in the foreground!

Creative photography training with Derek Gale

“Fisheye on the pier”

The following morning, after overnight rain, it looked less appealing, but I thought there must be something I could do with my fisheye lens.  I applied a grainy B&W effect in-camera, to give good atmosphere, and tried to keep everything symmetrical.

Creative photography training with Derek Gale

“In the shelter”

It wasn’t the best of weather that day, and a couple of people were taking advantage of the shelter…  …to shelter (oddly enough).  The B&W conversion simplified the image and made the figures more prominent.

Cromer pier has just won the “Pier of the Year” award for 2015, even though not much of 2015 has passed.  Though the holiday season has yet to start, it’s never out of season for photography.

Millennium Bug to hit digital camera sensors?

I heard recently that there is a new version of the Millennium Bug on the way, but one that will affect digital camera sensors.  It’s all to do with the ever decreasing pixel size in modern sensors, the new “backside illumination” technology, ever higher ISO sensitivity, and the fact that sensors have now reached what’s called the “defined limit of sensitivity”.  According to Professor Prvi Budala, of the Croatian Advanced Imaging Technology Institute, (based in the University of Split) , the change is initially quite gradual, and reversible.

April Fool!

“Green sensor stripes”

The first phase is that green stripes start appearing on the sensor, and they get stronger as each day passes.  You can, initially at least, remove them by using pixel mapping in such programs as Photoshop, or the pixel mapping function of your camera if it has it – my Olympus OMD EM-10 has this.  This is only a “quick fix” however, and after a while the sensor gets worse.  Note: The red/pink area in the image above is an artefact of the centre-weighted metering system and should be ignored.  I have no idea what the black dot is.

“Black sensor stripes”

As the Bug progresses thick black stripes appear in your images, and they cannot be removed using the above techniques.   According to Professor Pershe Kvitnya from the National University of Technology in Kiev, Ukraine, there are some extreme measures that MAY reduce the effect of the Bug.  One is to photograph only objects that have equivalent white stripes in them, such as white picket fences or stripey deck chairs.  These counteract the dark stripes.

April Fool

“Black sensor”

Eventually the Bug enters its final phase.  You then get images that consist of black stripes on a black background, (or vice versa), and it means that your sensor has failed utterly and you must buy a new camera.  That’s no hardship though, as the new ones will not have this Bug in them, and you will be able to justify the cost by using the “W=X+1” equation, loved by gear-heads.  Where “X” is the number of cameras you have, and “W” is the number of cameras you want.

The last word must go the Frau Professor Doktor A P R Ilscherz of the Technische Universität München, Germany.  She says, “Es ist alles Unsinn”, and you can’t disagree with that.

Spring has sprung!

Spring has officially sprung here in the UK, so it’s getting warmer and sunnier, even though we had a solar eclipse today.  It’s time to get out your cameras and get some images of the fresh flowers that have opened in the garden.  If you do that on a sunny day you need to make a decision about where the light should be coming from.  The classic way to photograph flowers is with the light coming from the front and hitting the petals quite flatly.

Creative photography training with Derek Gale

“Daisy with light on front”

Take this daisy flower photographed with a short telephoto lens and an extension tube to let me focus closer.  The bright sunlight has illuminated the petals well, and the background is nicely out of focus, but it’s not that exciting.

Creative photography training with Derek Gale

“Daisy backlit”

I wanted something with a bit more life to it, so I picked a daisy (we’ve got loads!) and held it at arm’s length so the sun was coming through the petals.  The background is a hedge in shadow, so it’s come out very dark.  It’s a much more interesting image, almost like it was shot in a studio, with the green sepals having lots of detail.  The white petals are a little bit like a firework exploding.

Creative photography training with Derek Gale

“Yellow flower with light on front”

I’ve used the same principle on the small yellow flower (Lesser Celandine?).  It’s OK with the light straight on, but is very much a record type image.  It’s dramatically improved with the dark background and the light coming through the petals.

Creative photography training with Derek Gale

“Yellow flower backlit”

An interesting effect with all these images is that there is some quite pronounced red fringing on the petals’ edges.  This almost certainly because the lens wasn’t designed to be used with extension tubes, and was past the limits of its optical correction.  I quite like it!

So, decide where you want the light to come from, make it happen, and you’ll get the best images.

Looks a bit fishy to me.

I recently bought a fisheye lens for my Micro 4/3rds cameras.  It’s a manual focus Samyang 7.5mm, which has the equivalent focal length of around 15mm, so it’s pretty wide.  It’s a “full frame” fisheye.  That means it produces a rectangular image, unlike the circular fisheye lenses that don’t fill the frame.  You have to careful with these lenses that your fingers or feet don’t appear in the frame, because it’s got a 180 degree field of view.

"V&A museum cafe"

“V&A Museum cafe”

Lines on the edge of the frame are very curved, but if you find a space that’s suitable you can use that curvature to give dramatic compositions.  Here’s the wonderful tiled cafe in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.  The very wide view allows the whole of the room to be included.

"Dippy in the Natural History Museum"

“Dippy in the Natural History Museum”

Here’s a London favourite that’s about to be moved.  It’s the Diplodocus skeleton in the entrance hall of the Natural History Museum.  The hall itself is an amazing space, and the bones coming in from the bottom of the frame add a somewhat surreal look.  I’ve added an HDR treatment to get extra detail in the shadows.

"Stage set model box"

“Stage set model box”

This lens isn’t just for large objects or spaces.  It will focus quite close, so here’s an image of an unusual object; a “model box”.  It’s a scale model of a stage set design.  Theatres use them to help understand how the set design will work in practice.  It’s not much bigger than a shoe box, so I focussed the lens as close at it would go.  The front of the stage is actually straight, but it doesn’t matter too much that it’s come out curved.

I’m still getting to grips with how the lens performs, but I’m looking forward to going fishing again very soon.

Travel by tube…

Many photographers are interested in macro photography, but are put off by the cost of macro lenses.  For example, the Panasonic Leica macro lens for my micro 4/3rds camera costs well over £500.  Getting really close to your subject opens up a whole new world of image possibilities, so how can you do it without breaking the bank?  The answer could be a set of cheap extension tubes.  I’ve recently bought some to test out my theory.  They are made in China and branded as Photga.  The set is two tubes of differing size that can be used alone or stacked together, and they have electrical connections which means you get autofocus.  They move the lens further away from the camera, and thus allow it to focus much closer than normal.

"Ice on car window"

“Ice on car window”

This is an ice crystal on my car side window one frosty morning.  I’ve framed it so a brick wall was reflected in the glass.  This gave the warm red tone to the image background which contrasted well with the cool blue of the ice.  There’s a nice line of sharpness across the frame.

"Petzl head torch lenses"

“Petzl head torch lenses”

The tubes allow you to get very close indeed!  I fitted the longer tube to my 14mm lens and it almost hit the subject before it was in focus.  This brought problems as the lens/camera obscured the light reaching the subject.  The solution was to photograph something with its own light source: in the case an LED head torch beam diffuser.  Looks a bit like the honey cells in a beehive.

"The Kered watch"

“The Kered watch”

The French have a saying, “The mad man sees his name everywhere”.  In this case it’s not my surname, but my first name backwards.  That’s why I bought it.  It’s a vintage/old KERED watch, that was made in France in the 50’s or 60’s.  I used my, very useful, LED head torch as a light source to camera left.  It’s given good shadows on the numbers and hands.

So do the tubes work as a macro lens replacement?  Yes and no.  They do let you get very close, but unlike a true macro lens, once you have fitted them you lose the ability to focus on infinity.  However at around £23 for a set they are great value, so are well worth buying.